Monday, April 22, 2013
Hanna Greer, Franklin County Commissioners, 614/525-5848
John Ivanic, Columbus City Council, 614/645-6798
Barb Seckler, Department of Public Health, 614/419-7716
Recognizing the many benefits of community gardens, the city of Columbus and Franklin County announced recipients of their joint community garden grants program. $53,200 in funding was allocated to 42 local community gardens this year. Partner organizations, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Clean Turn LLC, The Columbus Foundation and Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens helped to make the program possible by supplying in-kind product and services.
Currently in its third year, the City/County Community Garden Grants program supports existing gardens in the City of Columbus and throughout Franklin County and encourages the creation of new ones.
Community gardening is a growing movement in Central Ohio. Community gardens improve nutritional offerings and reduce family food expenses and they improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents, provide vocational training and educational opportunities to school children and provide a catalyst for neighborhood and community development.
“Community gardens do an exceptional job filling a void in neighborhoods,” said Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “Where abandoned houses once stood, gardens are taking root adding beauty and recreational space for neighbors to gather together.”
“Community gardens can be an important component of building strong, safe, and healthy neighborhoods,” said Columbus City Councilmember Priscilla R. Tyson, chair of the Health & Human Services Committee. “City Council supports community gardens and included additional money for this program in our most recent budget amendments.”
The city’s investment of nearly $35,000 for the 2013 grant program was allocated to support 34 separate gardens for necessary products and services unique to each project. One particular award was made to Rebuilding Together Central Ohio in order to acquire two rototillers and a trailer to be loaned as a shared resource for all community gardens.
“In 2009, when Franklin County set out to create its first community garden at Gantz Road, our primary goal was to provide families with the opportunity to grow fresh, affordable and healthy produce,” said Commissioner O’Grady. “We remain committed to that vision but as our community garden initiative has grown – from one garden in 2009 to over $20,000 in support today – our mission has evolved too. This year, Franklin County grant funding will support community gardens, like the one at Hoover-Y Park, which will connect local youth with a more active lifestyle as well as fresh produce weekly to share with their families.”
Franklin County’s investment will support eight community gardens outside of the City of Columbus but within Franklin County. The Hoover-Y Park is one of the eight which will receive funding this year. In 2012, nearly half of the children participating in a similar community garden program at Hoover-Y had issues surrounding weight. The children participating in this year’s garden program will have the opportunity to take home a bag of fresh produce weekly for their families and will benefit from the activities associated with caring for the one-acre garden.
With over 250 community gardens, Columbus has more community gardens per capita than any other metropolitan area. Gardens are often times located at churches, schools, and vacant parcels held by the city’s Land Bank. Community gardens can be dedicated to growing fruits, vegetables and herbs or simply flowers and other greenery, as long as the land is gardened by a group of people for the betterment of the community. They can be found in urban, suburban, or rural settings.
All qualified applicants receiving funding were required to be a registered 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and be located within the City of Columbus or qualifying areas of Franklin County. Grant awards were made up to $4,000 per project for supplies and/or services. Scott’s Miracle-Gro will supplement grant awards with product donations.
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